Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reflections on September 11th

September 11 -- I do not want to be misunderstood. I think that having a moment of silence and introspection and reflection is always good. It is as on September 10th as it is on September 11th. Memorial celebrations and remembrances are also good. But should there be more? Should we do more to honor the lives of those lost on September 11th?

Here are a few things that I thought we should do or think about to honor those who died in a senseless act of violence.

Rebuild something on the World Trade Center site. I have no idea what kind of building needs to be built. I know it should be some sort skyscraper. It has now been seven years and all we have is a large hole in the ground. Both Republicans and Democrats talk about leadership. This would be one area we could use a president to stand up and say stop the bickering and let's build something we can all be proud of.

After we have reflected, one question that always comes up in my mind is -- are we safer? Are we safer today than we were on September 11, 2001? I think the answer is yes. I don't think that airplanes are as easy a target to hijack as they were seven years ago. Cockpit doors had been reinforced. There is more thorough screening at airports. This is good. We should be proud that we have done something constructive that should make it harder to attack us the next time.

As a country, it seems like we should demand more. The security at seaports still remains porous like our enemies couldn't ship themselves here in a cargo container. There is very little security on our railroads. Railroads carry a huge amount of hazardous chemicals. Trains with hazardous chemicals still roll through densely populated areas. Our borders with Canada and Mexico have yet to be fully seriously addressed. We have tens of thousands of miles of coastline which also need to be addressed. It would seem that after seven years, we would have at least a plan to secure these areas that I just mentioned. But as far as I know, there is no such plan.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Although our military routed the Taliban in late 2001 and early 2002, we did not kill or capture many of the masterminds of 9/11. Yes, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is sitting in Guantánamo Bay. Yet, so many of the other high profile Al Qaeda agents and leaders are still on the loose. After seven years, this seems to be a glaring piece of unfinished business.

Finally, as I complete my reflection, I don't think a free society will ever be invulnerable to terrorism. Once you lock down a society so tight that there never be a car bomb or any type of terrorist act, you have to trample all over civil liberties. So I don't think it's practical. We want to be able to freely move throughout our country. So we have to balance safety with freedom. Maybe this is what needs more public discussion. Maybe this (safety - freedom) is what we all should be thinking about on this September 11th and future September 11's to come.

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